Monday, September 19, 2016

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 9/17

I don't want to harp too loudly on this, but boy howdy is it fun getting random stuff for free in the mail. I constantly oscillate between not wanting to rub it in and feeling ungrateful for not saying it enough. Even if I don't read half of it.

So: here's what showed up in my mail last week. Maybe something here will look awesome to you!

The Dreaming Hunt is the middle book of an epic fantasy trilogy, after The Sleeping King [1] by the team of Cindy Dees (in big type) and Bill Flippin (in notably smaller type). Dees is a bestselling author of suspense [2] and Flippin is the creator of the LARP sensation Dragon Crest. (This book does not claim to be set in the world of Dragon Crest as far as I can see.) And the plot is the well-loved epic fantasy stuff -- immortal nasty Emperor, mysterious prophecies, spunky female mages on the run from arranged marriages, all set in a world-spanning Evil Empire. It's a Tor hardcover, available September 27th.

From here on, as so often, I have a group of books from the hardworking manga factory of Yen Press. I believe these all are September books, and they're evenly divided between light novels and manga volumes. So, as if it were a segue, I'll move from heavy novel to light novels to manga.

First light novel in the hopper is Accel World, Vol. 7: Armor of Catastrophe by Reki Kawahara with illustrations by Hima. The back cover copy is aggressively inscrutable, but I believe this is another stuck-in-a-MMORPG story, with our hero being the real-world fat-kid loser who is a powerful leader in the game. Anyway, this one is full of Silver Crow and Nega Nebulus, not to mention Ardor Maiden, Chrome Falcon and Saffron Blossom, all doing...something.

Kagerou Daze, Vol. 5: The Deceiving comes from Jin (Shizen No Teki-P) with art by Sidu. Again, the cover copy isn't particularly new-reader-friendly, but I can tell you there's some teens with "strange powers" who run away from an orphanage. I must have read that book at least a dozen times, so this version could be worth a look-see.

Winner of this week's long-name contest is My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected, Vol. 1, written by Wataru Watari with spot illos by Ponkan➇. It's about a cynical teen boy who is "sentenced" to join a club that helps people after he writes an essay about hating being young. And, in best light-novel fashion, that club only has one member currently, a gorgeous and optimistic young woman. (I have no idea if the clubs-never-have-more-than-five-members thing is a fictional trope, or how Japanese schools actually operate.) Wacky hijinks, as they say, ensue.

Last of the light novels is Gakuto Mikumo's Strike the Blood, Vol. 4: Labyrinth of the Blue Witch, which also has pretty pictures from Manyako. This series is about...a school for magical people on a remote island, maybe? With vampires in it? (Or maybe they're all vampires?) Something along those lines, anyway -- there's an island, and a bunch of young people, so they're probably in school together there.

Diving into manga, how about Kaoru Mori's A Bride's Story, Vol. 8? This is set in 19th century central Asia, with each volume more-or-less following a different young woman in a different culture getting married and settling into her new life -- as seen by a British guy traveling around the area for some reason I don't remember at the moment (merchant? anthropologist? nosy busybody?)

Then there's Fruits Basket Collector's Edition, Vol. 5 by Natsuki Takaya, collecting the popular '90s shojo series in bigger volumes. This is one of those all-those-people-turn-into-something-else-at-random-times stories, with added romance sauce. And it's deeply beloved, so I am definitely not making fun of it.

Ubel Blatt, Vol. 6 continues the very most metal of manga series, from Etorouji Shiono. See my review of Volume Zero -- yes, Volume Zero; I told you this was metal -- for more details of the elves and black swords and medieval world and deep-died woe.

And then last of all for this week is one last manga volume, in a big confusing series: Umineko When They Cry, Episode 6: Dawn of the Golden Witch, Vol. 2. The story is by Ryukishi07 and the art is by Hinase Momoyama, who should be commended for managing to get two panty shots (front and back!) on the cover. This is five hundred pages of comics adapting part of a computer game way down the line of similar games with slightly different premises, so I'll note that this is vaguely horror, somehow related to Higurashi When They Cry (and not just because of shared crying), and really confusing.

[1] I can only dream that book three will be The Snoring Princess.

[2] I believe she writes romantic suspense, out of the romance genre, rather than he-man suspense, out of the mystery genre, or kids-in-jeopardy suspense, out of the family saga. But there's a lot of things called "suspense" out there, because a lot of people like reading it.

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